I tried lots of different dishes from various cuisines – and I’ve had some amazing Pho soups, great Thai curries, fresh Sushi and Sashimi, spicy Hot Pots and of course lots of Dim Sum. Unfortunately, I also had some dishes that I am not the biggest fan of. So let’s start with my list of the top 5 dishes I am not very likely to try again:
Fifth place: Dried shrimp
Dried shrimp are shrimp that have been sun dried and shrunk to a thumbnail size. They are used in many Asian cuisines, imparting a unique unami. A handful of shrimp are generally used for dishes. The flavours of this ingredient are released when allowed to simmer. Unfortunately I already had them on some fried noodles (and I was hoping for a vegetarian dish) as well as on top of a pork ramen. I love ramen soup, but if it is a meat-based soup and someone sprinkles dried shrimp on top, we stop being friends!
Fourth place: Jellyfish salad
I’ve heard about this just recently – but I did not think I would actually go out and give it a try. It turns out, I don’t have to go out far. During our team lunch, my colleagues ordered a number of dishes and did not tell me what they ordered. I recognised the fried noodles (with the dried shrimps on top) and the whole chicken (luckily they had removed the head before serving it), but not the salad next to it. I gave it a try, it was very chewy and had a sour dressing. It did not taste much like anything, it was just bland and sour. I was told this is the benefit of jellyfish: it’s tasteless and will absorb any flavour you add to it. Great. Maybe next time with chocolate sauce?
Third place: Chicken feet
Another strong contestant on my “I am not a fan”-list are chicken feet. This is a typical Dim Sum dish in Hong Kong. I’ve tried it and although I like chicken, and I don’t mind eating something that resembles a part of a living animal (ok, I am not going to enter into a bet based on the last sentence, but you probably get the point), it’s just not something I enjoy eating. Most of the edible meat on the feet consists of skin and tendons, without much muscle. This gives the feet a distinct texture different from the rest of the chicken’s meat. There are also many small bones which makes it difficult to eat and being mostly cartilage, chicken feet are very gelatinous. Not fun to eat.
Second place: Sea urchin
Getting closer to the first place… and also I am a big fan of eating fish and seafood, sea urchin is just not my cup of tea. It’s an expensive delicatessen, that is served as sashimi or sushi, and I am sure many Japanese (and other people) like it. But the texture is strange, it’s very creamy and soft. Then there is the strong ocean scent and smell – and combined with the seaweed wrap (we ate the sea urchin in warship or ship style – that’s seaweed outside, and the sea urchin sits on a bed of rice) it’s too strong for me. I am sure I pulled a similar face like these two guys on YouTube did when trying Uni sushi!
First place: Thousand year old eggs
You might have guessed this one already – but my experience with congee for lunch left me with a bitter after taste. No old eggs for me, I am sorry! The eggs are made by preserving the egg in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, calcium oxide and lime for several weeks to several months, depending on the method of processing. Through the process, the egg yolk becomes a dark green to gray colour, with a creamy consistency and an odour of sulphur and ammonia. The egg white becomes a dark brown, transparent jelly with little flavour. Nasty to look at, nasty in taste…